Hikigaya is the best highschool student protagonist ever.
Oregairu is a series that didn’t seem too striking at first glance. Granted, with a series description sounding similar to what Hagani is, I didn’t expect too much out of it. Just another highschool rom-com I thought. It would feature a loser protagonist who would somehow get involved with the school’s top beauty and also have another girl clinging to him. From the first episode, it was made very clear, that this series wouldn’t have any of that.
My low expectations for this series was completely shattered and my mindset of disliking most anime that features a high school setting is given some hope as this series really did impress me that much. So sit tight kind reader, I’m going to talk about one of the most suprising shows of this season.
To start the highschool series off on familiar note, we’re introduced to our protagonist Hikigaya Hachiman. Unlike most loser rom-com leads, Hikigaya’s “loser” status in the social rankings is self chosen. He has suffered many years of dejections and failures in his social life and has decided to cut all of that off as he entered highschool, he simply wishes to get by. He considers the seemingly happy world of a high schooler a blatant lie and insults the exuberance of youth. His insistence on opting out socializing and his general disregard for others worries his counselor, Hiratsuka Shizuka. She forces him to join the Volunteer Club and help students in need alongside its sole member, the schools beauty: Yukinoshita Yukino.
Now from what you heard, other than the first part on Hikigaya’s hate for youth, this might sound something akin to Oreshura or Haganai. Provided that you watched this series, you would know that this series is something far more than just a rom-com. Instead of screwing around in Oreshura or attempting to make friends in Haganai, the Volunteer’s Club has one purpose and that is to help those in need. Yukino’s desire to help others stems from her attitude that basically states that the “higher class” (AKA: Herself) is responsible for helping those essentially “beneath” her. From there, the duo’s duty of helping others begins.
- Hikigaya is one hell of a main character. He reminds me of myself due to my own habit of blunt speech and mild view of pessimism. His thoughts are definitely the kind of thoughts that used to run through my head during my school years. You can’t help like Hikigaya’s character. With all the right things he does and shit he endures, you can’t help but cheer for him to get a good-ol fashioned highschool end. His development and style of speaking the harsh truths of society rank him amongst my favorite male leads. I will also note that his looks in the LN does not match up with the anime, but since his looks factor into why he abandoned social contact, that’s a plus.
- Yukino almost matches Hikigaya in terms of social awkwardness. Because of her high standards and attitude, she too has one to call a friend but eventually finds one in Yui. I liked Yukino for the same reasons I liked Hikigaya and I believe the two make a nice pair (both in terms of romance and development). While she had her attitude most of the time, it was gratifying once we saw her be more nice and accepting towards our deserving protagonist (dat laugh/smile/wink).
- Yui is the girl that stands between Hikigaya and Yukino in the mess and tries to get everyone together. She’s the “glue” that keeps them together and while cute, isn’t too complex of character like Yukino is. Yui is hard to hate and she served as the first “character” to experience how Hikigaya cut ties with, but that backfires. Because I’m such a fan of Yukino, Yui doesn’t get too much of my favor.
- Saika and Zaimokuza were the comedic relief duo that showed up on the side. Saika moments in the series were definitely hilarious while I’m not the biggest fan of chunnibyou antics. Either way, I generally liked the two because they truly find something in Hikigaya that makes them want to stay friends.
- Shizuka seemed a bit shallow at first but once the Cultural Festival ended and she had that moment with Hikigaya, I couldn’t help but like her more as a character. It suggests that the two either knew each other for a while or she has some relation to Hikigaya’s problem (is she distant family or did she go through this kind of crap?)
- Out of the other classmates, Saki and Hayama are probably the more prominent. Saki is only focused on for one episode dealing with her family money problems. I hear that she get a bit more attention in the light novels. Hayama is the quinessential “nice guy” who gets along with everybody. The series itself (Yui) suggested that Hikigaya was a foil to Hayama and while Hikigaya dismisses that, Hikigaya is indeed “foiled” with Hayama’s character. Also, I realized that a lot of characters have their first names present in their last names, what’s up with that.
What I liked the most from this series, is from its phenomenal duo of Hikigaya and Yukino. I just found their characters to be somewhat familiar, but very refreshing. Whenever a highschool series that star these types of characters begin, it just becomes a harem and moves away from any sort of “solid” character development without doing the harem type of focusing on one girl and moving on to the next. The two show just so much blunt honesty about the modern high school “society”, if you will. The series focuses on Hikigaya but also shines on Yukino as the two of them eventually become more open to others.
Oregairu does something that not many high school series do, and that is piecing together the minds of said high schoolers, and more or less talk about society. Hikigaya’s words, while extremely negative, is actually very true and it is amusing to see how the most socially deprived are the most socially aware. His observations, his development, and his ideals to keep himself who he is truly makse him an extremely intriguing protagonist. Added alongside that are comedic relief and developmental foil that enriche the entire experience. Hikigaya has the “selfless” streak going on here and a phrase now circulating amongst the fan between the show now relate him with the Batman quote “He’s the hero anime deserves, but not what it needs right now” because of what happens in the anime’s last arc. What made this even better is that I had no idea that this series would be great in the first place.
I have literally rewritten this review around 4 times with styles ranging from extremely formal, to simplistic, to tieing Hikigaya’s character thematics with a poem, and back to simplistic. I realized that this is truly one of those series that I have to recommend that you watch instead of hearing this review. The music is enjoyable (espeically the opening) andwhile the animation is a bit choppy at times, the overall experience with the characters will excuse it. I have many things to say about this series, but the experience can’t really be done justice from my words and I highly advise for those who haven’t watched it give Oregairu a definite watch.
For an unexpected blast from start to finish; for a detailed analysis of the corrupt, idealized world of the average highschool in anime; and for the great character duo of Hikigaya and Yukino, I award this series with a numerical score of 9/10 and the title of being the best anime of highschool I bother to remember.